I learned to fish when I was in the 7th Grade. My parents bought a home in the country, and there was a pond stocked with bass and bream out in the back of the property. My dad took me out there a few times and showed me the ropes. I didn’t have a rod and reel, just an old cane pole and a loaf of bread. I’d bread-bait that hook, swing my line out, and pray for a tug.
I remember the first fish I ever caught. It was a shiner. Let me tell you, I was happiern’a mule eatin saw briars! But Debbie Downer Dad quickly told me those shiners weren’t any good, and that I needed to catch a bass or a bream. I’m happy to say that I snagged a few.
I’ve never been a great fisherman, but I do enjoy getting out on the water and going after fish. I plan on doing more of it as I get older. And I’m not necessarily talking about literal fishing.
For much of my life, I have dreamed of landing the big fish. The only problem was that I was too afraid to go after it.
Are you settling for minnows and shiners in your life? Is there something holding you back from going after the big fish? Fear? A lack of self-confidence? A feeling of inferiority? Does the pond seem too big?
I can’t say what those big fish represent in your life, because I’m not you. Perhaps it’s a life partner or boyfriend or girlfriend. Perhaps it’s the job you’ve always wanted. Perhaps it’s the college you’ve always wanted to go to. Perhaps it’s the person you are trying to recruit, or sell a product to. The big fish are what you dream about.
What’s stopping you from going after it?
For most of my life, I’ve lived with an inferiority complex. The big fish were on one level, a sublime level, and I was always looking up at them from my lowly promontory. The big fish frightened me, and I would often find myself stumbling for words or getting choked up when the big fish swam my way, or perhaps avoiding them altogether. I believed the big fish would swallow me alive, because I was blinded to the worth that I had as a person. I failed to realize that I had much to offer, too.
That feeling of inferiority was a lie from the pits of Hades. And I believe there are spirits not of this world whose prime purpose is to keep us down on ourselves and questioning our ability. Spirits of doubt. Spirits of uncertainty. Spirits of fear.
They tenaciously tell us that we can’t land the big fish. That we’ll never amount to anything. That we’re going to crumble at the podium. That the girl we’ve had our eye on is out of our league. That we can never go to college, get a good job, have a good life. They even paint this clairvoyant image in our mind of falling, failing, humiliation. They dampen our spirits with their disparaging demonic patois.
Lies. All lies.
And so we become disillusioned and deeply embittered. We might even grow jealous of those who are constantly landing the big fish and wonder why they are having such success and we are not.
I wonder how many blessings I’ve missed because I’ve been too afraid to go for them, or too afraid to ask. Unfortunately, this world doesn’t often reward shyness or hesitation.
Things began to change when I became a magazine publisher. For one, I owned my own business. I was a business owner, and that gave me a degree of confidence and a sense of pride in myself. I was no longer looking up at people, but instead looking them eye to eye. I always took (take) that mindset into interviews and other meetings where previously I might have felt inferior. That has helped me greatly to have peace within myself, to have poise, and not be awed by the big fish’s position or fame.
I began to realize my worth as a person. I began to see that there were some redeeming qualities about me. That God had given me talent that didn’t need to be underappreciated or squandered, and even though someone had achieved a level of public success that was greater than mine, that they aren’t any better than I am. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I should shirk humility, but rather maintain a level of confidence that is found in some happy realm between Eeyore and Emperor Nero. (There have also been times in my life when I thought I was the biggest bass in the pond, and something always seems to keep me humble.).
Don’t settle for minnows and shiners in your life. Dream big. Have the courage to try. And if the big fish swallows your bread, bait your hook and cast again.
And please, let me know when you snag that sucker. 78